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The Uruguay Round, Marrakesh Agreement and World Trade Organization

Time:2014-03-13 Hit:278

The Uruguay Round, Marrakesh Agreement and World Trade Organization

   After World War 11, developed nations sought to establish an open trade network to facilitate the recovery of the global economy. These negotiations yielded a proposal for an International Trade Organization (I.T.O.), and, as a temporary fix until the I.T.O. Charter could be negotiated, the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs 1947 (GATT 1947). The expectation was that the GATT 1947 would expire once a more comprehensive trade agreement, the I.T.O. Charter. was developed and ratified 6 Then the I.T.O. would interpret and administer the I.T.O. Charter.

However, the I.T.O. never materialized, and, therefore, despite its provisional nature, the GATT 1947 became a permanent fixture in international trade 7 Nevertheless, to dispel any concern that an international organization had been established, the GATT 1947 signatories continued to be called "Contracting Parties" rather than "Members." Moreover, the GATT 1947 was not considered a comprehensive trade agreement because it consisted mainly of the commercial policy provisions of the I.T.O. charter.

Partly as a response to concerns about the GATT 1947's strength and breadth, Contracting Parties engaged in a series of "rounds" of multilateral trade negotiations over the ensuing decades: the Dillon Round (1960-1962), the Kennedy Round (1964-1967), the Tokyo Round (1973-1979), the Uruguay Round (1986-1994), and the ongoing Doha Development Round. Each round of talks sought to liberalize new markets, lower tariffs, and identify solutions to different kinds of trade barriers! It was not until the Uruguay Round that the Contracting Parties finally reached an agreement or a charter for an international trade organization: the W.T.O.

  The agreements completed in the Uruguay Round are detailed in the Marrakesh Agreement. Part of this Agreement is the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (the W.T.O. Agreement). The other texts negotiated during the Uruguay Round are annexed to the W.T.O. Agreement.

  Annex I contains 13 multilateral agreements on trade in goods as well as the General Agreement on Trade in Services and the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.9 Annex 2 contains the Dispute Settlement Understanding, which sets out the process by which W.T.O. Members may resolve disputes over the meaning or application of a W.T.O. agreement. Annex 3 contains a Trade Policy Review mechanism, providing for periodic review of a W.T.O. Member's trade laws and policies. Annexes I through 3, and the agreements therein must be accepted by a country as a condition of its membership in the W.T.O. Accordingly, all of these agreements, along with the other provisions of the Marrakesh Agreement, were approved and implemented in U.S. law through the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA, P.L. 103-465, 19 U.S.C.' 3501 et seq.), which then-President Bill Clinton signed into law on December 8, 1994.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994:

The GATT 1994, which is found in Annex I of the W.T.O. Agreement consists of (a) the GATT 1947, (b) certain protocols, waivers, and tariff concessions made pursuant to the GATT 1947, and (c) interpretations of particular language and provisions of the GATT 1947. At its most general, the

GATT sets the maximum tariffs for particular goods and countries, provides disciplines for the regulation of imports and exports, and lists exceptions to these obligations. This report surveys many of the articles of the GATT that are considered fundamental as well as those that are frequently raised in W.T.O. consultations or disputes over a W.T.O. Member's domestic trade measures.

   The Nondiscrimination Provisions of the GATT The GATT seeks to prohibit W.T.O. Members from discriminating between "like products" on the basis of their origins. More specifically, the GATT bars W.T.O. Members from discriminating between like products because they originated in different W.T.O. Members or because they originated in a W.T.O. Member's territory rather than domestically. The GATT articles that layout this prohibition, Article I and Article 111, are therefore known as the nondiscrimination provisions. Although "like product" is used in both provisions, the GATT does not offer a single precise and absolute definition of the term. Consequently, to determine whether two products are "like," W.T.O. panels and the Appellate Body engage in a case-by-case analysis to discern whether the two products are in a competitive relationship given the product properties and end uses consumer preferences, and tariff classification.

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